BECU Card Skimming Operation Busted

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SEATTLE – One of two foreign national arrested in the skimming of hundreds of thousands of dollars from BECU cash machines last fall was sentenced Friday to five years behind bars.

Investigators used surveillance videos taped at various BECU machines to identify Claudiu Tudor and an accomplice, Gvidiv Mateescu, both Romanian natives, installing card skimming machines at several BECU ATMs, then removing the skimmers at a later date. The skimmers were used to record card data from BECU members, then to make counterfeit cards, which were used to withdraw cash at BECU ATMs from the member accounts.

Authorities estimated more than $320,000 was stolen from BECU members and customers of several other institutions. At just one BECU branch, federal prosecutors contend 55 members were victimized by the scheme.

Tudor was convicted of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Mateescu has pleaded guilty to the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced July 29.

In one video taken Sept. 23, 2010, Mateescu is seen approaching at BECU ATM with a Wilson tennis racket case from which he removes a skimming device and video camera and installs them at the machine. The video then shows Tudor approaching the machine.

Police arrested the two men at an Extended Stay Motel in Seattle, where they found card counterfeiting equipment as well as identification material from several countries, including Sweden, Slovakia, Russia and the U.S.

Prior to their arrests, Tudor and Mateescu struck ATMs at a Key Bank in North Seattle, several Wells Fargo branches in Kirkland, and BECU storefronts in Renton, Puyallup and Woodinville. Tudor also is suspected of skimming cards in Mount Vernon, elsewhere in Washington and in California.


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